March 2023

Property Tax Protest Looking glass image

Prepping for the Frustration Season

  • Local appraisal districts should be sending out notices of appraised value shortly.
  • The deadline to protest is likely May 15 – after which, you will have an informal and formal hearing on the value of your property.
  • To get a good result at the protest hearings, its important to start preparing now.

Well we are getting close. Its almost that time of year. The time of year that all Texans despise the most – property tax season. Within a few weeks, we should be getting our notices of assessed value from the respective appraisal districts. At that point, the season will kick into high gear and you will have until May 15* to file a protest.

As a commercial property owner, therefore, what should you do between now and May 15 to start prepping for the protest hearings? Well that’s what we are going to talk about this week.

Understanding How the Property Tax Protest Hearings Work


To understand how to prepare for a property tax protest, I think its first important to really understand how the protest hearings work. Only then can you understand what evidence will be best to present to get to the values you deserve.

The first step is an informal hearing. In most districts, that means you are literally meeting with an appraiser from the district and making your case as to why your value is too high. Getting to meet with someone from the district face to face provides a unique opportunity to really show him or her what evidence you have that your property is valued too high. And you also get to understand what the appraisal district’s argument is.

Unfortunately, in Travis County they have all but eliminated informal hearings. Instead, you just submit your evidence into the portal and wait for them to make a counteroffer. It is a far less effective method, but it does require less time of the appraisers.

The next step is the formal hearing. At this, you will be in front of a three-person panel presenting your evidence. These three folks are appointed by a local judge. And they do not necessarily have a background in real estate. They will listen to you present your evidence and then the appraisal district present its evidence. The panel then decides what the assessed value should be.

Given this, it is essential that the evidence you present is clear, data driven, and precise.

Preparing for a Property Tax Protest Hearing


Now that we know how the hearing goes, what should you prepare to bring to that hearing? As I wrote above, the best evidence is based on data driven analysis. And it should be precise – if you think a heritage tree lowers the value of your property, you need to be able to show exactly how much it lowers that value.

Given that, when preparing for the upcoming protest, what evidence should you gather? I think the following is a good start:

  • Photos – anything you have that shows the condition of the property is not what the appraisal district thinks it is.
  • Invoices and estimates – any estimates or repairs that were done or still need to be done to improve the condition of the property.
  • Appraisals – if you have had someone appraise the property, have that written analysis.
  • Financials – The best are the monthly operating statements for each month of the previous year, as well as rent rolls.

Gathering this information is a good start to get you on the way to protesting your property taxes. Beyond that, if you have anything that will show that the property has any defects or should not be valued as high as the appraisal district has estimated, that information can be a benefit in the hearings.

If you have any further questions or we can help you with your protest, please do not hesitate to give us a call.



  • There are some exceptions to the May 15 date if the appraisal district is late getting the notices out. But for our purposes, we will assume the deadline is May 15.

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Helping Fellow Austinites Just Got Harder

  • Austin has too many fellow residents that experience homelessness and need assistance.
  • The Salvation Army announced the sudden closure of its downtown women’s shelter.
  • The closure of this facility is going to make it harder for us to meet the needs of our fellow residents.

I have written a lot in this blog about housing. It’s a passion and its probably the biggest issue (or at least one of the top two) facing our city. Its been a minute but incorporated in that is a discussion on homelessness. And how we can help our fellow Austinites experiencing homelessness.

As you will recall, back in the spring of 2021, we had a referendum here in Austin that would end public camping and basically destroy all of the homeless encampments around the city. At the time, I was a big proponent of reinstituting the camping ban. It just was not sustainable long term for our city to allow encampments all around the city. BUT – a big part of that ban had to be helping our residents find alternate housing.* I had no good suggestions on how to do that, I admit. But I was hopeful that smarter, more educated people did.

Unfortunately we got some bad news that is going to make solving that issue even harder. And that’s what we are talking about this week.

The Salvation Army Shelter has Abruptly Closed


Austin has developed into a big city. And like many big cities, too many of our fellow residents are experiencing homelessness. It’s a big issue that we need to help solve. One of the places that was vital to that solution is the Salvation Army Center at 8th and Red River. It houses approximately 100 single women experiencing homelessness.

A couple of weeks ago, the Salvation Army took Austin by surprise when it announced it was closing the shelter. This closure announcement struck a lot of people by surprise. Its not clear as of now why the shelter is being closed. Only that the plan is to sell off the land. There are, of course, a lot of people seeking an explanation for the closure.

The Salvation Army Closure will Make Housing More Difficult


The closure of the shelter has had a significant impact on the homeless community in Austin. Many individuals who relied on the shelter for food, shelter, and other basic necessities are now left to fend for themselves. With few alternative options available, many may be forced to sleep on the streets, in parks, or in other unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

The closure of the Salvation Army shelter has also put a strain on other organizations and services that serve the homeless population in Austin. With more individuals in need of assistance, these organizations are likely to struggle to keep up with the demand for their services. As a result, many homeless individuals may fall through the cracks and not receiving the help they need.

The Salvation Army shelter’s sudden closure announcement is a stark reminder of the challenges faced by organizations and individuals working to address homelessness and poverty in our communities. It highlights the need for increased support and resources to ensure that everyone has access to safe and secure housing, food, and other basic necessities.

As a society, we must work together to address the root causes of homelessness and poverty, and ensure that those in need have access to the resources and support they need to thrive. We are a Central Texas community. And ignoring or not serving our fellow residents in need is a mark on us all. I hope, therefore, that we will find a way to replace the services the Salvation Army provided and fill the needs of our fellow residents.



*Indeed, at a talk he gave, Matt Mackowiak, the head of Save Austin Now, told us that – after the ban was reinstated – he would work hard to help solve the homeless issue in Austin. I welcome hearing

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Texas has a Streamlined Eviction Process

  • The process for residential evictions in Texas is fairly streamlined.
  • The landlord must deliver a notice to vacate and can then file for an eviction and possession of the property.
  • If the landlord wins at trial, the court will issue a writ of possession giving the landlord the right to the possession of the property.

Texas is a great place to live. I reckon I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. It obviously has its faults. But overall, it’s a very friendly, inviting place to be. And it’s a great place to generally do business and set out to make your mark on the world.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of the biggest is its overall business friendly environment.  Our culture is one of encouragement for folks who are taking risks and trying to make things better. And the state laws are set up that way.

In general, this applies to laws governing landlords and developers.* The eviction process in Texas is a fairly streamlined process that ultimately is good for both landlords and tenants because it helps keep overall costs down and encourages more development. So this week, lets talk about how that process works.

Commercial Evictions Show Importance of Commercial Lease Documents


In this article, I am going to specifically focus on residential evictions. But to start, I will say that commercial evictions are generally very straightforward. I will write a separate article on this in the future, but courts basically just apply the language of the commercial lease agreement when determining the landlord’s eviction rights. As a result, it is extremely important to make sure your commercial lease document is well drafted.

Texas Residential Evictions are Streamlined


The residential eviction process, though, is (not surprisingly) a little more complicated. It begins with a notice to vacate.** The notice must be in writing and state the reason for the eviction. The notice must also provide a deadline for the tenant to vacate the premises. The deadline must be at least three days from the date the notice is delivered to the tenant.

If the tenant fails to vacate the premises by the deadline, the landlord next files an eviction lawsuit with the justice of the peace court in the county where the property is located. The lawsuit must include a copy of the notice to vacate, proof of service of the notice to vacate, and any other relevant evidence, such as a lease agreement and the property records showing the tenant’s failure to pay (for an eviction for failure to pay rent).

Once the lawsuit is filed, the JP court will set a hearing date. At that hearing, the landlord will present its evidence for eviction. And, of course, the tenant can make his or her argument. We generally think landlords are sufficiently knowledgeable to attend this process without having to hire an attorney.

If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the court will issue a write of possession. This is a court order that allows the landlord to take possession of the property. The writ of possession must be served by a constable or sheriff. The tenant will be given 24 hours to vacate the premises after the writ of possession is served.

If the tenant does not vacate the premises after the writ of possession is served, the constable or sheriff can physically remove the tenant and his or her belongings from the property. The landlord can then change the locks and take possession of the property.

A tenant can appeal the JP court’s eviction order. If the tenant chooses to appeal, he or she must file a notice of appeal with the justice court within five days of the judgment. The tenant must also post a bond with the court. The bond amount is set by the court and is usually equal to the amount of rent owed. The bond is used to cover the landlord’s damages if the tenant loses the appeal. If that the tenant cannot afford the bond, he or she can file a pauper’s affidavit to get the bond waived. And the landlord is able to challenge the tenant’s declarations in that affidavit.

After the notice of appeal is filed and the bond is posted, the case is transferred to the county court. The county court will set a new hearing date for the appeal. The appeal hearing is a new trial, and both parties can present new evidence and arguments. At this point, we strongly encourage landlords to hire an attorney – such as Bukowski Law Firm, for example.

If the tenant wins the appeal, the judgment is reversed, and the tenant can remain in the property. If the landlord wins the appeal, the writ of possession is issued, and the tenant must vacate the property within 24 hours.

While this may seems like a convoluted and difficult process, I can say for certain that it is much easier and more streamlined than a lot of other states. And, as a result, overall rental rates are likely lower than they would be without this process.



* City of Austin notwithstanding.

** Except in Austin. See previous blog articles about the 30 day notice of proposed eviction.

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